I'm in Salt Lake City this week, attending a blog conference. On the airplane yesterday, the couple in front of me spent the entire four-hour flight attempting to entertain and pacify their antsy two-year-old. They had not a single rattle or toy. The mom sported gorgeous long hair and got angrier and angrier that her little girl wanted to pull it. Well, what else was the child to do?
Kids are Great Until You Take Them Somewhere
Traveling with kids is hard. I was one of those moms who liked to be prepared. This stemmed from events from my own childhood.
Once I got lost at O’Hare Airport. I was twelve when it happened and it was my own stupid fault. My parents had me paged and all was well. But as a mother, I never took my children anywhere without labeling them with their name/address/telephone/blood type/preferred hospital network/favorite cartoons.
That time I got lost at O'Hare, we were traveling to Iran. I remember my mother packed a jar of peanut butter for ‘emergencies’. I suffered a daily emergency every time I contemplated my plate of stew and Persian rice served with a raw egg on top. When the peanut butter ran out, I had a couple of lean days until I discovered a street vendor who sold bags of something remotely similar to Cheetos.
Anyway, trying to live up to my own saintly mother, I once took advantage of advance meal selection back when flying was civilized. I ordered a Happy Meal and chocolate milk for my toddler, which he patently rejected, eating instead my ham sandwich with Dusseldorf mustard washed down with my black coffee.
He then pooped like a quarter horse and there we sat, with the seatbelt light illuminated, the reek permeating the cabin, and my seat mates glaring at me as I kept throwing shade at the elderly man behind us, hoping people would think maybe he had bad gas. I wasn't fooling anyone. It is not a lie that a spontaneous cry of relief sounded from my section when the "Fasten Seatbelt" sign went off.
Kids are Great Until Someone Gets Sick
I am also a firm believer in packing extra drugs. I always carried antibiotics, Motrin, Benadryl, and a tourniquet for good measure. This craziness stems from the time our family was vacationing in remote Wisconsin. My brother, who is allergic to much of God's green earth, and who carries the heavy burden of being the sole reason we kids were denied our inalienable right to a kitten, somehow ate shrimp. First of all, if you are the parents of a kid who breaks out in hives every minute, and you also happen to both be medical professionals, don’t you steer your son towards maybe ordering a hamburger?
My brother ate a plate of French-fried shrimp and blew up like a balloon. This being a Sunday, and the nearest hospital being a ferry ride away, my father got desperate. He found a pharmacy -- closed -- but my dad pounded and hollered on the door just the same. Luckily the pharmacist lived above his store and he came running in his slippers and bathrobe to give us what we needed -- epinephrine.
And here's another ferry-drug anecdote. Once, my husband and I took the kids to camp on a ferry. It was a three-hour crossing on a very stormy Lake Michigan, but I was prepared. Before vomiting commenced, I preemptively dosed everyone with Dramamine. We all passed out, en masse, until the boat docked and the steward shook us awake. We stumbled to the car where the snoring resumed and my bleary-eyed husband had to resort to the old trick of pinching a $50 bill on the corner and holding it out the window to keep himself alert at the wheel.
When we pulled into camp, the director’s enthusiastic greeting faded when he glanced in the backseat at three completely drugged-out boys. Somehow, and I don’t know how, we successfully discharged them and left them asleep in a clump on a bench awaiting their lice checks.
We stumbled back to the car, drove out the camp gate and made a beeline for the first grassy knoll we could find where we blissfully slept on the grass for two hours. When we awoke, we realized that said grassy knoll was actually a wooded median in the highway. Luckily for us, we were in Michigan where truckers understand that kind of fatigue and state troopers are busy with road kill and meth trafficking.
Thank you for joining me down memory lane. I'll be back in town this weekend, traveling home unencumbered but sympathetic. Because you know what they say. There's two kinds of travel: first class and with children.
If you enjoy a little bit of humor to start your weekend, sign up below!